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South Dakota to execute man for 1990 murder of nine-year-old girl

(Reuters) - A man convicted of raping and murdering a 9-year-old girl after kidnapping her from a convenience store in 1990 is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday night in South Dakota, the state's second execution this month.

Donald Moeller, 60, who had declared his innocence and fought for two decades to prevent his execution, admitted during a court hearing in early October that he had committed the crime and stopped appeals that would further delay his death sentence from being carried out.

His execution is scheduled for 10 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday at the state prison in Sioux Falls.

According to court records, Moeller abducted Becky O'Connell from a Sioux Falls convenience store where she had gone to buy candy and repeatedly raped and stabbed her. Her body was found in a wooded area the next morning with extensive knife wounds.

Moeller was convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death in 1992, but was granted a new trial after the state Supreme Court ruled that testimony of previous attempted sexual assaults on three other people should not have been permitted.

Moeller was convicted and sentenced to death again in 1997. He continued appeals until recent weeks but at a federal court hearing in early October he admitted the crimes.

"If the rape and murder of Rebecca O'Connell does not deserve the death penalty, then I guess nothing does," Moeller told the judge, according to court records.

Executions have been rare in South Dakota. Before this year, the state had put to death only two inmates since 1913. On Oct 15, it executed Eric Robert on October 15 for the killing of prison guard Ron Johnson during a failed escape attempt.

If Moeller's lethal injection is carried out on Tuesday, he will be the 34th inmate executed in the United States in 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Storey)

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